Thursday, January 24, 2008

Promissory materialism is not falsifiable

Let me give credit where credit is due for this very interesting statement:

...you may argue with an atheist about something such as the intricacies of an information usage, storage, retrieval, and reproducible system such as DNA. You may point out that such as system has never been seen to spontaneously appear in nature, nor gradually develop in nature, nor in laboratories. They will respond that given enough time such a system could develop. Thus, given enough time anything can happen.

They will also conjure a non-disprovable concept that states that since materialism is true, given enough time scientists will, no doubt, be able to explain everything by materialistic means. This means that they feel free to claim that science now means that they can believe in something for which there is no proof because they have faith that someday it will be proven true—in a year, a decade, a century, a millennia, etc.
Materialists like to make a big deal out of making sure that statements are falsifiable. Well, is the boldfaced statement falsifiable? How?
If not,
1) it knocks down the priority of falsifiability for these types of metaphysical statements, and
2) the "God of the gaps" argument is diminished in its power.

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

Falsifying the bold part might be time-consuming, however the section after it is absolutely false.

This means that they feel free to claim that science now means that they can believe in something for which there is no proof because they have faith that someday it will be proven true—in a year, a decade, a century, a millennia, etc.

Just because scientists may be able to describe events using materialistic reasons does not mean that the resulting answer is the desired one. One can believe in whatever they want to believe in, but that does not guarantee that it will be proven true as expected.

So, if you think "This means" is equivalent to stating "bold part" = (same meaning) "italic part", the bold part is effectively falsified.

Rhology said...

Just because scientists may be able to describe events using materialistic reasons does not mean that the resulting answer is the desired one.

But since alot of the time the answer will never be forthcoming, that statement itself is highly suspect.
And scientismists (yes, you heard that right) have a history of ignoring contrary facts in order to keep their own hypotheses artificially afloat.

And you didn't even answer the question. Posit all the time you need, if it's a time-consuming process. How could one falsify that?

Rintintin said...

"But since alot of the time the answer will never be forthcoming, that statement itself is highly suspect.
And scientismists (yes, you heard that right) have a history of ignoring contrary facts in order to keep their own hypotheses artificially afloat."

If there's no answer yet, there's no answer yet - apologies that scientists don't know absolutely everything yet, but studying billions of organisms that live in an enormous universe covering billions of years tends to take a little time.

Care to post some evidence to back up your second claim (given that research is still ongoing in evey area of science ie theories are being tested to see if they stand up) how can you accuse science generally of dogmatism? Because I'll happily post some more highlighting the exact thing you are complaining about from the intelligent design 'theorists' (to be called a scientist generally involves actually doing some science) you seem to admire so much. Also you do know that around 40% of scientists are religious if you're inferring science=atheism?

merkur said...

"given enough time scientists will, no doubt, be able to explain everything by materialistic means"

This statement is untrue, so your question is pointless.

That entire blog is hilarious, btw.

Anonymous said...

And you didn't even answer the question. Posit all the time you need, if it's a time-consuming process. How could one falsify that?

I will answer your question in a moment. Please be patient (you don't mind waiting a few hundred years for that answer, do you ?)

Rhology said...

apologies that scientists don't know absolutely everything yet, but studying billions of organisms that live in an enormous universe covering billions of years tends to take a little time.


Don't act like I'm the one upset here. I'm pointing out an inconsistency in the naturalistic worldview. You guys are upset, but you're upset over something you can't fulfill either.

Care to post some evidence

Your stubborn and fallacious arguments in support of Darwinism are good places to start.

you seem to admire so much.

I don't particularly care for ID theorists, no. I do find some of their arguments not only valid but useful, however.

Also you do know that around 40% of scientists are religious if you're inferring science=atheism?

You've mistaken me, I wouldn't make that inference.


This statement is untrue, so your question is pointless.

So the principle of falsifiability to which naturalists so often point is dealt a serious blow of inability to self-sustain.
The point is obvious, whether you get it or not, whether you laugh or not.

Waiting

OK, you can't answer either. No problem. Concessions of defeat are certainly welcome on this blog.

Peace,
Rhology

Rintintin said...

Don't act like I'm the one upset here. I'm pointing out an inconsistency in the naturalistic worldview. You guys are upset, but you're upset over something you can't fulfill either.

If you can provide a more useful way of investigating the natural world than methodological naturalism please let the world know. This is the method used by everyone who tries to work anything out from scientists to trying to unblock the kitchen sink. People have been asking Philip Johnson for his theistic alternative for 20 years now - his response? silence. And again, study takes time - longer certainly than just saying 'well God must have just done it that way'. Rome wasn't built in a day and all that.

I'm also not claiming science can/will know everything, or that because one accepts MN one must accept philosophical naturalism also - any scientific theory is never 100% proven no matter how good, and if the supernatural exists (and that's a big 'if') then science cannot investigate that either.

Your stubborn and fallacious arguments in support of Darwinism are good places to start.

So even though you agreed there were examples of natural selection favouring a particular phenotype in the wild, and your only response to some of my points about the fossil record was that it was a test from God to see if I'd blindly accept the biblical account in the face of vast evidence to the contrary, as well as having no real answer to my examples of molecular evidence for common ancestry beyond 'God must have just made it that way' (bearing in mind these data were predicted to be found before they were actually discovered or investigated, are evolutionary biologists able to see the future or something? Maybe I should ask them for the lottery numbers for next week ;) you think I'm just accepting it because it sounds good? It might be worth pointing out also I was an atheist well before knowing anything about evolution.

I don't particularly care for ID theorists, no. I do find some of their arguments not only valid but useful, however.

Their arguments are hopeless - they can't define their terms, and when someone falsifies their claims they simply shift the goalposts of their descriptions. They also cant make any positive claims for ID better than 'we don't know'. Additionally they simply cherry pick the data that supports them.

You've mistaken me, I wouldn't make that inference.

OK, just making sure :)

Chris Severn said...

since materialism is true, given enough time scientists will, no doubt, be able to explain everything by materialistic means.

Just want to let you know that certainly not all atheists would believe this statement, and I'm surprised that any decent scientist would.

I think that there will never be a time where everything is correctly explained, through materialistic means or any other.

I also think there's no way to prove materialism is true.

However, I do believe that scientific inquiry will continue be the best way of finding out the nature of reality.

Rhology said...

Not trying to be a dork, but this is on point, actually.

I think that there will never be a time where everything is correctly explained, through materialistic means or any other.

...

However, I do believe that scientific inquiry will continue be the best way of finding out the nature of reality.


Are these 2 statements falsifiable? If not, should that give us pause about the conditions for truth=falsifiability?

G-man said...

If materialism is true, then yes, logically there exists a material explanation for everything. Many of these explanations may be discovered by scientists. However, falsifying materialism would be quite easy.

With all the stories I hear of miraculous healings, I'm surprised none have been captured on video. I mean, the most remarkable, once in a lifetime events are often filmed, yet never has a convincing video surfaced of a prayerfully restored limb.

Demonstrate a miracle, and you will have falsified materialism. It is quite simple.

As for taking things on faith - science operates on the best current theories. That is, the theories with the most evidence and the most explanatory power. Nothing is taken on faith.

Falsifiability does not imply truth. Many, many statements are falsifiable and are also certainly false (such as "I like pineapple yogurt").

However, a falsifiable statement is required for science because an unfalsifiable statement is useless. Try something "invisible thetans are attached to our bodies, making us less than fulfilled humans." This cannot be shown to be strictly shown as false. However, if we can't know what would make it false, how can we know if it's true?

Chris Severn said...

Are these 2 statements falsifiable? If not, should that give us pause about the conditions for truth=falsifiability?

I think they're not falsifiable. (Well, the "I believe.." and "I think..." might be falsifiable, but I think you're talking about the meat of hte statements...)

And, if you're claiming that some people think truth=falsifiability, then don't include me in that.

The fact is that every one of the well established theories that we know (gravity, evolution, relativity, electromagnetism, quantum) are falsifiable, but none will ever be able to be claimed to be definitely true no matter how long we live or how smart we get.

That doesn't mean people don't go around claiming that things that are only 99.9999% likely to be true, are actually true. I know I do. For instance, I've been known to state as a fact that the earth goes around the sun. Even though I know there's a chance it doesn't. A really really small chance.

Rhology said...

RTT,

You're asking for sthg that we're fleshing out elsewhere.
But here I'm just criticising the nearly-constant refrain of "Unfalsifiable!!!" that I hear from critics of ID and other Christian-friendly ideas. I don't have to have an alternative for the critique to be sound.

And it's easily seen when you think about it and start applying that standard to other statements we make, like:
any scientific theory is never 100% proven no matter how good

Is that falsifiable?
See what I mean? It's not a universal solvent, is what I'm saying.

I do believe that scientific inquiry will continue be the best way of finding out the nature of reality.

Is that falsifiable?
I'm not saying, Chris, that you're among the targets of my critique here, I'm just trying to illustrate the point.
Indeed, you deny it here: if you're claiming that some people think truth=falsifiability, then don't include me in that.

Only too happy to exclude you from the wrong-headed thinkers here.


If materialism is true, then yes, logically there exists a material explanation for everything.

Is that falsifiable?

I mean, the most remarkable, once in a lifetime events are often filmed, yet never has a convincing video surfaced of a prayerfully restored limb.

1) B/c we all know that everythg we see on videos really happened.
2) B/c we all know that we can't believe ANYthg unless we see it on video.

Demonstrate a miracle, and you will have falsified materialism.

No non-wrong-headed, plausible naturalistic explanation exists for the resurrection of Jesus, and you're not exactly running full speed to the nearest Babdist church.

science operates on the best current theories. That is, the theories with the most evidence and the most explanatory power. Nothing is taken on faith.

Is all that falsifiable?
Uh oh - a faith statement was made after all.

a falsifiable statement is required for science because an unfalsifiable statement is useless.

Is that statement falsifiable?
And I don't hear these calls for falsifiability just in the arena of science, but also in direct "does God exist?" type debates. It's like testing for bloodstains at the scene of a spilled box of Rice Krispies.

Peace,
Rhology

Chris Severn said...

No non-wrong-headed, plausible naturalistic explanation exists for the resurrection of Jesus...

We need an explanation for that, just as we need an explanation for why Severus Snape disobeyed Lord Voldemort....

They're fictional characters.

Rhology said...

I'll admit that I do sometimes ask myself whether it's a total waste of time discussing with someone who's so deluded and and navel-gazing that he'd make a statement like that one.

Chris Severn said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chris Severn said...

We have more in common than I thought Rhology :)


(excuse the deleted post - same as this, but with a typo)